KCH's PASSING THE TORCH
featuring renowned tenor George Shirley
and rising mezzo-soprano Olivia Johnson
Thursday, May 26th @ 8:00 PM
The Passing the Torch series is
made possible with support from the
Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation.
Kerrytown Concert House continues its community mentorship project connecting area master musicians with young, promising artists for a series of performances and mentorship conversations.
This edition of Passing the Torch pairs world-renowned tenor and National Medal of Arts recipient, George Shirley, with rising mezzo-soprano, Olivia Johnson. George Shirley has won international acclaim for his performances in the world’s great opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera, Deutsche Oper, and more. Shirley was the first African-American to be appointed to a high school teaching post in music in Detroit, the first African-American member of the United States Army Chorus in Washington, D.C., and the first African-American tenor and second African-American male to sing leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera, where he remained for eleven years. Olivia Johnson is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she earned a Master’s degree while studying under George Shirley. She has performed with the Michigan Opera Theatre, Rackham Choir, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Shirley and Johnson will perform classic and new works for voice at 8:00 p.m., and also host a pre-concert conversation/masterclass at 5:30 p.m. that is free and open to the public.
COVID-19 Safety Policy for Indoor Concerts
- Moving forward, all patrons and artists who wish to attend or present performances indoors at KCH must provide a valid, complete COVID-19 vaccination card OR proof of a negative COVID-19 test performed within the previous 72 hours prior to entry. Such proof must be presented at concert check-in, may be displayed on a smartphone OR presented as a physical copy, and must also be accompanied by a matching, valid ID for verification.**
- Additionally, according to current CDC recommendations, masks are required for audiences inside the House and can only be removed when seated with a beverage (when available). When performing, artists may wear a mask, or not, at their own discretion.
**Proof of vaccination exceptions will be made for children under 5. These guests must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the previous 72 hours prior to entry.
George Shirley is in demand nationally and internationally as performer, teacher and lecturer. He has won international acclaim for his performances in the world’s great opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera (New York), Royal Opera (Covent Garden, London), Deutsche Oper (Berlin), Téatro Colón (Buenos Aires), Netherlands Opera (Amsterdam), L’Opéra de Monte Carlo, New York City Opera, Scottish Opera (Glasgow), Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, Washington Opera (Kennedy Center), Michigan Opera Theater, Glyndebourne Festival, and Santa Fe Opera.
He has recorded for RCA, Columbia, Decca, Angel, Vanguard, CRI, and Philips and received a Grammy Award in 1968 for his role (Ferrando) in the RCA recording of Mozart’s Così fan tutte.
In addition to oratorio and concert literature, Mr. Shirley has, in a career that spans 49 years, performed more than 80 operatic roles in major opera houses around the globe with many of the world’s most renowned conductors (Solti, Klemperer, Stravinsky, Ormandy, von Karajan, Colin Davis, Boehm, Ozawa, Haitink, Boult, Leinsdorf, Boulez, DePriest, Krips, Cleva, Dorati, Pritchard, Bernstein, Maazel, and others).
Shirley was the first African-American to be appointed to a high school teaching post in music in Detroit, the first African-American member of the United States Army Chorus in Washington, D.C., and the first African-American tenor and second African-American male to sing leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera, where he remained for eleven years.
Mr. Shirley has served on three occasions as a master teacher in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Intern Program for Young NATS Teachers. He was also a member of the faculty of the Aspen Music Festival and School for ten years.